Friday, June 21, 2013

read: Sniper Elite: One-Way Trip (4 stars)

Sniper Elite: One-Way Trip: A NovelSniper Elite: One-Way Trip: A Novel by Scott McEwen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once you've invented and built a killing machine, turned it on and pointed it at an enemy, you'd best get out of the way while it does its work. That's essentially the story here.

On the one hand, the killing machine is a man. He has hopes and dreams, desires and loves. The story tries to get a bit of that in. This helps humanize things and get the reader to identify with the sniper. We also see how it motivates the machine.

On the other hand, the man is a machine. A deadly machine that observes, calculates, attacks, survives and kills. Most of the story is about the machine and how it single-mindedly fulfills its mission, even without the approval of its masters.

The writing is compelling, especially the latter half. It's full of (almost too much) detail and realism about the military, the politicians and bureaucrats trying to control them and the opposing forces. The reader can almost be excused for believing the story is non-fiction.

The book almost lost me at a few points. During the first half, there seemed to be a few too many viewpoints. The time spent with the bureaucrats as they discussed the situation dragged on and on. During the operation, I got the feeling that the depiction of the main character, the sniper, was going a bit too far. He was too good, too smart, too resilient to bullets and bombs. This made him a bit more like James Bond than the realistic character the story called for.

All in all, though, this was a very enjoyable book.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy for review.]

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

read: Catching Fire (4 stars)

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is very good sequel, indeed. And Indeed it is a sequel. If you didn't read the fist book, you would be lost in this story (go and read the first one, now). As it is, it is a challenge to associate all of the returning character names with what happened in the previous volume. On the other hand, the key characters are just as distinct and memorable as ever. Once again, the story takes off and doesn't let go. The pace is not quite as breakneck as the first time around, but the author doesn't waste anytime making life difficult for Katniss and her family. And then things get worse.

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